on the road again ...

So we leave today. And after several days traveling ... we will arrive in Goa by Sunday afternoon. We will rest up, maybe play on the beach a bit. Then Monday, work begins. The YWAM (Youth With A Mission) people will show us around their current facility, bring us to the new site, and talk about their past, their present needs, and their vision. I will most likely send a shout-out while there and before heading off to Pune. So see you down south!


playing catch-up

So stories have been going around the past several days as to why the landline phones (and consequently, dial-up internet as well) are non-functioning. The best story that I have heard thus far is that someone cut a 50-foot section of cable out of the telephone lines to melt the copper and sell it. Another popular one is monkeys must have broken the lines while jumping or swinging or whatever. The real story tends to be not so dramatic, though. In any case, we have been without telephone and internet for nearly a week now, and still counting. So this is all done from the internet cafe.

Saturday, a week ago, I was making some Wai-Wai (Ramon noodle equivalent) in the kitchen, when I heard a loud thud and then continuous thumping on the roof. I went outside and what did I spy but several monkeys playing. They stopped to stare at me - two on one of the water tanks, one in the tree directly above my head, and two others on the peak of the roof. They apparently know when Saturdays are because that is there play date, I guess.

The next picture I just thought was really neat. The sun was setting on the plains down below, through the smog of Dehradun. Beautiful.

Later on last week, the clouds left, the sun shone bright, and everything was gorgeous and crystal clear. I was told that this is the typical late winter in Mussoorie, not the crazy cold that I had experienced. We ate lunch outside in the sun and enjoyed playing on the swing set with the girls, Sophia and Hannah, after eating. I even went outside on Thursday and Friday without my coat or a sweater on! (I still had three layers of shirts though). It felt so good to sit in the sun and work in the afternoon. This is what the Himalayas look like on a clear day from the office/house. Then it was cloudy again and snowed again this last Monday. Strange mountain weather.

So that pretty much catches up on the past tense. The first team (of our three Ryan's in the office) is returning from a project trip tomorrow. They should be in Delhi today doing their post-trip meeting with the volunteers before they fly off tonight. The Pinkstaffs (whole family), Gretchen, David, and I are leaving tomorrow afternoon to head done to Madgaon, to arrive Sunday afternoon. We have the last half of Sunday and the first part of Monday to recoup from the 30ish hour train ride before we go to the site. Directly after that project trip, Gretchen, David, and I will head up the coast to Mumbai where we will meet our two volunteers coming from the States and head inland to Pune for another project trip. I will update periodically.
One amazing thing though, one of the volunteers for the Pune trip I know. I met him one I was first learning about eMi. Through a mutual friend, we got into contact and had lunch - two to three years ago, I think. Crazy! He was an intern in the Uganda office and works in San Antonio. And who says that God is not in the details?!


the tale of the 'pink frosting'

This is the story of one can (plastic tub) of a particular strawberry frosting. I left home with one can of Duncan Hines Strawberry and Crème frosting headed for Colorado Springs eMi orientation. During my testimony to the group, I pulled out some props - one of which being my most favorite frosting, nay, snack food. After orientation and awaiting the flight out to Delhi, I had the privilege of staying with the Powell's, a couple on staff at eMi. When I arrived, what did I find on the bed in the guest bedroom, except one special can of frosting. Though it was Pillsbury, I accepted it graciously into my luggage. So from CO Springs, Pillsbury traveled with its friend Duncan Hines from San Antonio, to Newark airport, and then onto Delhi, the train to Dehradun (just passed through), and up to Mussoorie. Sadly, it survived unopened for just a couple of weeks before I could resist no longer. After finishing the can, I simply put it in the recycle bin for it to be reincarnated as some other plastic form. But that was not the ending for Pillsbury. When walking down to the bazaars with Laura to help me buy fabric (and go to a tailor to be fitted) for some cortas (traditional Indian shirts), she told me of the simple can's redeemed life, and how much it impressed upon her. One of the ladies that takes care of Oaklands (e.g. cooking, cleaning) was taking out the trash to be burned, compost to be composted, and the recycle to be recycled, when she happened to discover one lonely Pillsbury can. She cleaned it out and took it home with her to be used in some other capacity.

The reason I tell this story (despite just having a bit of fun), is to express partially how deep it affected Laura. These simple things that we as privileged Americans (and "Westerners") take for granted, used items, objects that are devoid of value to us once we use it once - these are the things that light most sheds on in a third world country. Though there are many problems you can find where you are (especially when it is not at home), there are also many good things. I guess the point is this: do these revelations change you, or it is shrugged off as an o.i.i. as you re-enter Western culture?

Can you ever really go back once you have left? Maybe going back is not an option because the world has not changed, and you have. Despite what you have seen, touched, felt, lived, thought - despite all of that, the world does not change. And you so want it to. hmm.

Oh, and the Duncan Hines from S.A. - still unopened, thank you. What temptation though. After Easter.


pictures! take 4

Mussoorie in snow. It snowed several inches last Sunday. Wow.

Say 'Hi' to the monkey - one of many. This is not the one that charged me, so all is well.

pictures! take 3

This is the office. There is another room to the left (north office). My desk is straight back. And the door at the back leads to the girls' dorm. There is also a loft area above with more desks, affectionately called "the poopdeck".

Welcome to my home!

This is the girl's dorm living area.

This is where I sleep (rotate 90 deg. to right). It stays fairly warm at night with the curtains closed and pre-heated by a bar heater.
And that is essentially the grand tour.


pictures! take 2

First hike. View from office/house of the 'hills' to the north. Kind of cloudy that day.

Home sweet home. Or should I say, office sweet home. (One staff and the three other interns).

From the scavenger hunt. Down in the bazaars (I think Library bazaar).

pictures! take 1

Beginning of culture shock. Newark airport; knowing it is going to be a full flight.
Taxi from Dehradun to Mussoorie. Yes, we are on the top of the mountain (though once you see what continues to the north, you too would call this a hill); and yes, we had already traveled half way up.

Taxi driver's perspective. My perspective: 'Dear God, are we going to fit?'


monkish living?

It's odd. I keep thinking that maybe it should be different, but there must be a reason. I feel like we exist in a monastery - set apart from a world so hurting. Still a part of me truly believes that monks have it wrong: that though we are to not be of the world, we do need to be in the world. But here, perched up on a hill in Northern India, tucked away in our office and in the sleeping quarters and such, what are we doing? The idea of going to the mountains (when the office was first established) was to have a retreat away from the plains, from the traffic and noise and hustle, to have sanity to do what we are gifted and called to do as design professionals, and as a less traumatic culture shock for us newbies. But that sets us apart, by design, from the people - except when we go out for project trips or holiday.

I really felt this strongly a couple of days ago when Matt, our family missionary (who actually used to work for S.O.S. in Memphis), David (returning intern & our UK representative), and I went over to another nearby hilltop to Woodstock school for a meeting between Bible study leaders. Woodstock has a prestiges reputation as a university prepatory school with an American based curriculum. Both Matt and David, last semester, had become involved in leading the 9th grade girls' Bible study. So after being asked (by several individuals) if I would be interested in helping out as a female voice and presence, I agreed to see what happens. Anyway ... when arriving to the school, I had the immediate impression of an enormous monastic complex. The student body seems wonderfully diverse, but the school sets itself apart from the villagers that surround it. It seemed very inward focused. It is an expensive boarding school, so everything occurs on campus. Is this not like eMi? I sleep in the adjoining room to the office. If I did not want to, I would not have to ever walk outside. We have a kitchen and cooks and even our food is delivered to the pantry directly.

I suppose I need to take comfort in the fact that we do all go outside, and down away from our small shelter. We go to church; we go to small groups; we go to the bazaars; we visit Indian friends. But there is still much difference between the poor in Mussoorie and the impoverished in the plains. Sometimes I simply forget that I am even in India.

As a side note: Friday morning, Matt and I went back to Woodstock for the girls' Bible study. We had 12 girls ... for a 6:30am breakfast, followed by the discussion! For those non-familiar to the intensity of that statement, allow me to assist. The sun rises shortly after 7am here right now. And for the cold: well, our kitchen actually serves as a walk-in refrigerator, literally. Tap water freezes if you look at it wrongly. So for 15-ish year olds, to remove themselves out of warm beds to walk to Bible study in the dark and cold, this is huge! And we had a great discussion on the cost of discipleship - which, I was informed, is very different here, in an overwhelmingly non-Christian environment, than in the States, where our enemy is not our neighbors but ourselves. So praise God.

So (I guess as a second side note), it is now after 2am here, and I am not as young as I once was. The stars are amazing out here - so crisp and so many ... much like being in west Texas, actually. I really wanted to get a picture of God's display, playing with my camera's shutter speed and such, but I felt rushed and generally scared. The monkeys can be very dangerous at night, especially towards females (why?). Earlier this week, I guess I seemed to approach a baby monkey and made one alpha monkey not happy ... which got me quite light on my feet trying to get away as it came after me. Last story for tonight; my contacts are dry. Good night, and good afternoon to my friends on the other side of the world.